Back in 2000, my brother was a lecturer in Informatics at Queens University in Belfast and had begun to take an interest in the area of programming that I was in – which was ecommerce sites using Microsoft ASP (Active Server Pages).
We had signed a deal with Chain Reaction Cycles (CRC) and he wanted to get an overview of how ecommerce programming worked so that we could create their website.
As I went into more detail on the software and the strategies needed to make online sales, he eventually stopped me and said “Seems good - in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king”.
The interesting thing is that, as we are about to go in to 2017, the top-end companies like Amazon execute a sublime strategy, but the mid-market companies often remain almost completely in the dark about what good ecommerce is.
We had an example this year of bidding on an ecommerce contract with a company based in Ireland that was well suited to IRP Technology. We lost the sale and they set up a new site on Magento-based technology. We calculated we could get £120K of sales per month within 4 months of go live - they were currently on £10K a month. Our Sales Manager followed up 6 months later after their Magento install to see how it went and reported back. "The owner said they were very happy with the new site. I asked him if he was making many sales - he said no, hardly any!" And this was a serious business with ecommerce potential....
One of the deep, core problems at the heart of ecommerce is the lack of any goal or any credible qualifications.
In most areas of life there is some form of testing to lead to differentiation between people. GCSEs, A Levels, Degrees. And each of these can be graded — 1st Class, 2.1, and so forth.
Then, when people enter professional careers such as accounting or medicine, years of work is required to get qualified. These qualifications, the work involved and the discipline required to achieve them create order, trust, established best practices and credibility.
In ecommerce there are no qualifications. There is no gold standard. There is a blurring of a line between what is a sales pitch and what is research.
Ecommerce remains in 2016 a totally unregulated industry. Most industries could not operate like this. But then again, ecommerce is just retail / selling and really it is just not important to the wider world whether or not it is efficient or who sells the items. It’s no big deal — efficiency only matters to sellers and companies if they want to make a lot of profit.
For me, understanding that it is all about sales and not about technology is where ecommerce begins. In the IRP World, ecommerce success is just about one thing — sales growth. This year the metrics that I value most are:
- In 2016, existing IRP customers achieved greater than 50% average growth.
- Over all time, more than 1.1 billion GBP has been transacted on IRP technology to over 170 countries.
Understanding that ecommerce is all about sales provides a foundation for comparison, performance-based competition and a clear view of what is really going on.
ATIFM — All Time IRP Funds Managed
A core people-based metric for me in the IRP World is their ATIFM (All Time IRP Funds Managed). This number indicates the amount of money that an Account Manager or Ecommerce Manager has transacted.
Rather than have no way to gauge their experience and capability, the ATIFM combined with their projected growth percentage for the year provides a quantitative view of their performance.
A bit like Fund Management in the stock market, results are everything.
When you understand it in this way, ecommerce begins to make sense. With the lack of any other guides — Money Talks.